You will not freeze to death! The west coast of Norway is warmed by the Gulf Stream, so you can expect temperatures to be similar to those found in New England. Though temperatures vary from south to north, average temperatures range between 20 and 35 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. Chicago winter’s are colder than this.
They are not garden-variety, traditional cruise ships! Although they are working ships (think…carrying freight, mail, passengers between one of their 34 ports with stops at all hours of the day and night) as well as passenger ships, most of the Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal ships look and feel like cruise ships. Ships are outfitted with spacious public areas, exercise rooms, saunas, hair dryers in the cabins, elevators, and stabilizers. Unlike traditional cruises, however, there is no organized entertainment on board.
Cabins aboard ships are comfortable and cozy. Most feature two lower berths while some have a mix of two lower and upper/lower berths. All cabins have private facilities. All ships, except the two classic vessels, have one or more cabins that are wheelchair-accessible. Don’t expect nightly turndown or towel refreshment unless requested.
Forms of Payment? American Express, Visa, MasterCard and Diner’s Club. When boarding, you will receive a “Cruise Card” to use as form of payment until settling your account at the end of the cruise.
Dress Code? There is no dress code on Hurtigruten ships. Passengers wore comfortable, casual clothing. Think blue jeans, sneakers and you’ll be in style. If cruising during the winter, bring waterproof garments, hat, gloves and the indispensable Yaktrax to fit over your boots/shoes unless “yak” is your middle name. The Yaktrax almost 100% guarantee sure-footedness on ice. After one day of walking around on icy streets going, “oops, oops, oops,” those Yaktrax never left our feet again, and never will when traveling in cold climes. Smart Europeans have been using a version of these for eons. Easy to carry. Easy to put on. Reasonable cost. Buy them!
Meals/Food? All meals are included for one-way and roundtrip passengers. Meals are served at set times in the dining room. Breakfast and lunch are buffet service. Dinner is a set three-course meal. If you have dislikes, allergies, etc., let Hurtigruten know ahead of time. Travels With Sheila and ex-Marine has this “thing” about fish. It must be mild, sans bones, filet only, no heads or other appendages attached. Picky, picky and because of this, we requested no fish throughout the trip which they honored. (There was one dinner that people looked envious as we were served steak instead of a fish that wasn’t to everyone’s liking.) Fish appears on every buffet and we did pig out on the cold salmon which we adore. Tell them beforehand!
There is also a cafeteria/shop selling prepared food, liquor, munchies, etc.
Internet? All ships except for the MS Nordstjernen and the MS Lofoten have an internet café and offer internet access via satellite. It was free on the Midnatsol but the connection was extremely slow and didn’t always work. In most harbors, mobile/cellular networks (3G) are available if you bring your own PC and a mobile access subscription. There is no internet access in the cabins.
Tipping? Oh happy day! There is a non-tipping policy on the Norwegian Coastal Voyage ships. However, if you feel that individual crew or staff members should be rewarded for providing exceptional service, tipping is at your discretion. A tipping policy does exist on expeditions to Antarctica, Greenland and Spitsbergen (MS Fram only).
MS Midnatsol is one of Hurtigruten’s newest ships and has been sailing since 2003. It is one of the three largest in the fleet and has a large, two-story panoramic lounge above the bow with light filled glass expanses. It also had a sun deck, beautiful atrium, bar and lounging areas…View image. All ships, except the two classic vessels, are equipped with self-service laundry facilities, irons and ironing boards. Detergent is included in the price. The Midnatsol was immaculate and had ample antiseptic jars at the entrance to the dining room and throughout the ship…View image. An employee stood at the entrance and respectfully asked each passenger to use them in an attempt to keep that Norovirus off the ship.